Quest Vitamins LTD,
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
Also known as lucerne, alfalfa is a member of the pea family. While alfalfa sprouts have become a common food, it is the leaves that are primarily used as medicine. Today, alfalfa is used to treat High Cholesterol, poor appetite, and Menopause. The herb is available in bulk, in tablet and capsule form, and as a liquid extract.
Traditionally, alfalfa has been used to treat digestive problems, Water Retention, and Arthritis. North American Indians used the plant to treat jaundice and promote blood clotting (1). It has also been used as a tonic for indigestion, dyspepsia, Anaemia, loss of appetite, and poor assimilation of nutrients (2). The seeds were used to treat Boils and insect bites.
Part of the plant used: LEAF.
Liquid extract (1:1 in 25% alcohol), 5-10 ml three times daily (3).
Dried leaf, 500-1000 mg daily.
1-2 ml tincture three times per day (4).
When used as directed, alfalfa is generally quite safe, aside from occasional reported allergies. Use in excessive dosages may be harmful, however. Studies have shown that excessive dosages of seeds or sprouts are associated with systemic Lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease characterized by inflamed joints and kidney damage (8). People with SLE or a history of SLE are advised to avoid use of alfalfa products.
Alfalfa contains coumarin, which has anticoagulant properties. Coumarin may interact with the action of almost any drug. Alfalfa may interact with quinidine, an antiarrhythmic agent. Allopurinol may increase the retention of alfalfa in the body. Alfalfa may also interfere with the absorption of tetracyclines - avoid taking large quantities of the herb within two hours of taking tetracyclines.
Alfalfa is contra-indicated in Lupus.
1. Briggs C. Alfalfa. Canadian Pharm J Mar 1994; 84,85,115.